1 Kings 12:25 MEANING

1 Kings 12:25
(25) Jeroboam built Shechem.--Shechem had passed through many vicissitudes of fortune. It was already a city when Abraham entered the Promised Land (Genesis 12:6), and is from time to time mentioned in the patriarchal history (Genesis 33:18, Genesis 35:4, Genesis 37:12-13). At the Conquest it became a city of refuge (Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:20-21), and the scene of the solemn recital of the blessings and curses of the Law (Joshua 8:33-35). From its proximity to Shiloh, and to the inheritance of Joshua, it assumed something of the character of a capital (Joshua 24:1; Joshua 24:32). Then it became the seat of the usurpation of Abimelech, which allied itself with the native inhabitants of the region; but rebelling afterwards against him, it was destroyed (Judges 9). We then hear nothing more of it till this chapter, when the tribes assemble at Shechem, under the shadow of the famous hills of Ebal and Gerizim, to meet Rehoboam. Jeroboam is said to have "built it" anew. This may be taken literally, as indicating that it had never recovered from its destruction by Abimelech, or it may simply mean that he fortified and enlarged it as his capital. Subsequently it gave way to Tirzan and Samaria; but its almost unrivalled position preserved it in importance among the Samaritans after the Captivity, even down to our Lord's time, and under the name of Nablous (Neapolis) it has lasted to the present day, while many other cities once famous have passed away.

Penuel.--See Genesis 32:30-31; Judges 8:8; Judges 8:17. It lay on or near the Jabbok, on the other side of Jordan, commanding the road from the east by Succoth to the fords of Jordan and Shechem. Jeroboam rebuilt it--perhaps out of the ruin in which it had been left by Gideon--as an outpost to his new capital, and a royal stronghold among the tribes on the east of Jordan.

Verse 25. - Then Jeroboam built [i.e., rebuilt or fortified, בָּנָה naturally has both meanings] Shechem [see on ver. 1 and on 1 Kings 14:1] in Mount Ephraim [The Har-Ephraim, or mountain district of Ephraim (in Joshua 11:16 called the "Mountain of Israel;" cf. Joshua 17:15-18; Judges 4:5; Judges 10:1; 1 Samuel 1:1), is "the central mass of the hills of Palestine, nearly equidistant from the northern and southern boundary of the whole country" (Stanley, S. and P., p. 229), and the richest and most beautiful part of the land. "The tower of Sichem had been burnt down by Abimelech and the tower of Penuel had been destroyed by Gideon, Judges 8:17" (Keil). The city of Shechem had been destroyed at the same time as the tower, but had no doubt been rebuilt, at least in part, otherwise it could hardly have been selected for Rehoboam's coronation. It was naturally Jeroboam's first care to strengthen his position by fortitying his capital, and the more so as this city would be particularly obnoxious to Rehoboam as the scene of the revolution; but why he should at the same time have rebuilt Penuel - Ewald thinks the seat of government was placed here - is not at first eight so obvious, as it lay beyond the Jordan (Genesis 32:22, 30; Genesis 33:17) and was therefore presumably outside the circle of hostilities, should such arise. Probably it was because this was the gate to his Trans-Jordanic territory. A tower commanding the fords of the Jordan would secure Reuben, Gad, etc., against invasion from Judah. It is also not unlikely that Jeroboam. who was the great castle builder of that age, had some fears of "hostile attacks from the north and northeast" (Keil), or thought of "the caravan road which led over Gilead to Damascus" (Wordsworth), and of which he would wish, for the sake of his revenue, to retain the control], and dwelt therein [He made it his first residence and capital]; and went out from thence [i.e., when he had secured one fortified city. He could hardly be certain as yet which side some of the tribes would take. It is also possible that some of the workmen who had built Shechem were afterwards employed on the fortification of Penuel], and built Penuel. [Bahr says, "There is no doubt that he built these fortifications by tribute labour, like Solomon." But is this quite so certain? The people after the revolt would naturally conclude that Rehoboam, of whose proud temper they had had such proof, would want to wreak his vengeance on the city which had rejected him, and the instinct of self-defence would lead them at once to rebuild their walls. And the newborn kingdom would also earnestly desire to possess a suitable capital. Thus their self-interest and enthusiasm alike would obviate the necessity for a conscription.]

12:25-33 Jeroboam distrusted the providence of God; he would contrive ways and means, and sinful ones too, for his own safety. A practical disbelief of God's all-sufficiency is at the bottom of all our departures from him. Though it is probable he meant his worship for Jehovah the God of Israel, it was contrary to the Divine law, and dishonourable to the Divine majesty to be thus represented. The people might be less shocked at worshipping the God of Israel under an image, than if they had at once been asked to worship Baal; but it made way for that idolatry. Blessed Lord, give us grace to reverence thy temple, thine ordinances, thine house of prayer, thy sabbaths, and never more, like Jeroboam, to set up in our hearts any idol of abomination. Be thou to us every thing precious; do thou reign and rule in our hearts, the hope of glory.Then Jeroboam built Shechem in Mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein,.... Not that this city had lain in ruins from the times of Abimelech, Judges 9:45 for then it would not have been a proper place for the convention of the people, 1 Kings 12:1 but he repaired the walls of it, and fortified it, and built a palace in it for his residence:

and went out from thence, and built Penuel; a place on the other side Jordan, the tower of which was beaten down by Gideon, Judges 8:17 and might be now rebuilt, or at least the city was repaired by him, and anew fortified, perhaps for the better security of his dominions on that side Jordan; though Fortunatus Scacchus (p) is of opinion that this was an altar, the same as at Carmel, 1 Kings 18:30, which Jeroboam built, and called by this name in testimony of the common religion of the Israelites and Jews.

(p) Elaeochrism. Myrothec. l. 2. c. 58. col. 593.

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